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Your FSF membership makes timely, important work possible

by Zoe Kooyman Contributions Published on Apr 22, 2020 04:32 PM

The last few months have been eventful to say the least. Putting together our annual LibrePlanet conference is always an inspiring time, in which we engage with new and existing community members about many different free software issues and perspectives. Our annual associate member meeting, also held online this year, brings us focus and helps us understand how the work we do is received. One of the things we learned from the member meeting notes of this year is that it is good to share what we are working on. As a Free Software Foundation (FSF) associate member, you are at the core of our community, so we'd like to share some of the things we're initiating, things that are on our minds, and how you can get more involved!

Connecting people without sacrificing freedom

Tackling the problem of nonfree communication platforms

As announced at the LibrePlanet 2020 conference, in the keynote by executive director John Sullivan, we've been building up a working group focused on freedom in communications technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us and the world a reminder of the pressing need for free (as in freedom) communication tools: networks and clients that have user freedom as their top priority.

Living in freedom depends on being able to communicate in freedom. Now, as people are confronted with online communication more than ever, it is important to remain committed to our ethics surrounding them, and we want to provide the knowledge and resources needed for people to take their freedom into their own hands. The aim of the Communicating in Freedom working group is to gather experts, activists, and users to document and address these obstacles.

We have already started our work in this area, for example, by sharing a list of free communication platforms we use to conduct our everyday business. The list provides information to counter the consistent pressure on people to forfeit their freedom and privacy in order to be able to communicate professionally or socially by using applications like Zoom, and other proprietary systems. There is also an ongoing documentation project happening on the LibrePlanet wiki about remote communication tools, and we started the collaborative documentation of resources on public production of COVID-19 related material called Hackers and Hospitals.

Behind the scenes, we have been hard at work helping some institutions use more free software to meet their needs, and we have been thinking about how we can motivate and help provide free resources to people that are not able to set this up themselves. Stay tuned for blog posts and emails that are related to this topic. In the meantime, you can already sign up to the remote communication email list to join this important conversation.

Involving the community in the LibrePlanet conference

The LibrePlanet conference is our pride and joy. Every year, it brings a wide range of free software enthusiasts and newcomers to the movement together to talk about the success and progress of free software globally. We want to do more to involve community members in different elements of the organization of the conference, to keep it dynamic and improving. We're formalizing our plans to bring together a group of community members to assist with the talk selection process. We also want to continue involving people in things like outreach, promotion, organizing and promoting satellite instances, and more.

We're still working on the details, but as we're currently still tingling from the success of this year's online version of LibrePlanet, we'd love to hear from you at campaigns@fsf.org if you see yourself taking on any of these responsibilities.

Update to the High Priority Projects (HPP) list

The High Priority Projects (HPP) list has been an important campaign of the FSF since 2005. The HPP list draws attention to a relatively small number of projects of great strategic importance to the goal of freedom for all computer users. The list serves to foster work on projects that are important for increasing the adoption and use of free software applications and free software operating systems, and it serves as inspiration for community members to initiate projects. We work hard all year on ongoing and new initiatives that take up much of our time, many within the listed priority areas, and we have not had the time to step back to revisit the list since January 2017, but a lot has happened in the free software movement, and with an eye on future developments and opportunities, we feel it is important that the list is updated now.

A public call for submissions for the list will follow shortly after the review committee has been finalized.

Making free software a kitchen table issue

Building relationships to grow the movement

Connecting with new audiences, especially young people, is one of our biggest challenges, and we are fully aware of the benefits of collaborations and connecting through media. In this spirit, we interviewed young hackers at the LibrePlanet conference, and asked them to tell us more about their views on free software. The video and audio of this interview will be released soon. We also initiated the Award for Outstanding New Free Software Contributor this year, so we can honor and promote the young enthusiasts that are the future of our movement.

The list of blogs, media outlets, and journalists that we can write to is forever evolving, and building relationships is key, but it takes time. If we want to make free software a kitchen table issue, we need to be at the forefront of media outlets and people's minds. The FSF campaigns team is constantly developing and learning, and though we take this part of our jobs very seriously, we can always use help! We appreciate anyone contacting campaigns@fsf.org us to introduce us to your contacts, or to link us to your favorite blogs and magazines. In the last few months, we have also added a Mastodon account to our list of social media. You can connect with us at https://hostux.social/@fsf.

Speak up for free software to the media

The FSF Community Team is a network of activists who aim to spread the free software philosophy in the press, and in blogs, forums, and social media. The idea is to help the FSF respond immediately to articles, posts, and discussions related to free software. These are non-inflammatory and persuasive rapid responses to those who misunderstand or misrepresent free software. It is a longstanding and important method of activism to have concerned people speaking up directly to media outlets they follow, and explaining why these issues are important in their own words.

Connect with other FSF associate members in the forum

If you haven't already, please join us in the FSF member forum. It is a great place to meet other free software activists. It's a place only members and staff have access to, and therefore guaranteed to be a place where you will find great free software connections.

Your support keeps us going

We're a small team, and we have a high workload and big dreams, and associate members provide the energy and resources to help us make these dreams a reality. We thank the members who gathered online in March at the annual associate members meeting and provided us with thoughtful feedback; but even if you were not able to attend, we can always use your help and your ideas, and we love connecting with you.

Now that remote and digital connections are playing a bigger role in our daily lives than ever before, it is important to communicate about and push for free software continuously. We don't want to come out of this crisis realizing people were forced to give up their freedom in order to live their daily lives with technology. We want to improve conditions now, and even more importantly, we want to build social and technical infrastructure so that we will all be better prepared for a future crisis. We are grateful for your continued support, which is critical in allowing us to do so. Please continue your advocacy for free software, and bring new people into the fold. We need you.

Thank you for being an associate member.

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